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Housing Act 2004 - guidance on enforcement under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System

Using guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), based on research by the University of Warwick, council officers rate each individual hazard present within a dwelling on a pre-determined scale.

This results in a hazard score for each of the 29 hazards incorporated within the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Scores are grouped into ten bands from A to J with Band A representing the most severe hazards down to Band J representing those with minor health impact. Hazard bands A to C are deemed Category One hazards. The remaining Bands are deemed Category Two.

The Local Authority will be guided by three main points when making an enforcement decision:

  • The HHSRS Hazard Rating
  • Whether the Local Authority has a duty or power under the act to take action
  • The best way of dealing with a hazard having regard to the enforcement guidance

Hazard Awareness Notice

  • Advisory notice only
  • Normally used only for Category Two hazards (unusually could be used for Category One hazards)
  • Often used where properties are owner-occupied
  • No time limit to commencement of remedial works
  • No follow up inspection

Improvement Notice

  • Used for Category One or Two hazards
  • Remedial work must begin no later than 28 days after notice has been issued (unless the notice has been appealed)
  • Suspension of notice is possible in certain circumstances e.g. where a person of a certain description begins or ceases to occupy the dwelling
  • Agreed time period for remedial work to be completed
  • Follow up visits to verify work has been completed
  • Failure to comply with the notice is a criminal offence

Prohibition Orders

  • Used for Category One or Two hazards
  • May prohibit use of part or all of a dwelling where hazards are identified e.g. serious threats to health and/or safety or to limit the number of occupants or prohibit the use of the dwelling to a particular group
  • Suspension of the order is possible under certain circumstances e.g. where a person of a certain description begins or ceases to occupy the dwelling
  • Contravention of the order is a criminal offence

Emergency Action

  • Used for Category One hazards only
  • Used where there is considered to be an imminent risk to health and/or safety
  • Allows Local Authority to carry out immediate remedial action. Can also serve an emergency prohibition order which would have immediate effect
  • Demolition Orders - used for Category One hazards only
  • Used where an imminent risk to health and/or safety has been identified
  • Property is considered to be beyond repair at reasonable cost

Landlord Property Inspection Process

The guide below illustrates the inspection process that landlords should carry out in order to minimise the possibility of notices or orders being served on a dwelling.

1. Inspect Property

  • Room-by-room checking elements, fixtures and fittings
  • Check common parts and outside the building
  • Record any deficiencies, disrepair or anything else that may give rise to a hazard

2. Deficiencies - Hazards

  • Do the deficiencies contribute to any of the 29 hazards?
  • Do deficiencies Increase the likelihood of an occurrence? Increase the severity of the harm?

3. Remedial Action/Work

  • What needs to be done to remedy deficiencies and reduce risk?
  • Carry out works according to severity

4. Keep Records

  • Record programme of remedial work and completion date
  • Retain all certificates and receipts

5. Review

  • Check all hazards have been removed/minimised
  • Re-inspect property regularly, e.g. change of occupants, alterations to property, and in line with legislation